FRIDAY, APRIL 9, 2021
Cable star tries it again: Everybody seems to think that the Senate parliamentarian made an important ruling at the start of the week.
But what did the parliamentarian say? Also, can anybody play this game here in the streets of Our Town?
Yesterday afternoon, we showed you how the New York Times explained the ruling, or tried to explain the ruling, in Tuesday's print editions.
That attempt at explanation didn't go real well. Today, we're going to show you what Rachel Maddow said on this topic this past Wednesday night.
Two nights earlier, Maddow had made a ginormous hash of this topic. We expect to discuss that epic, 25-minute, gong-show performance next week.
On Wednesday, the star returned to the topic! Here's how her new discussion started, thirteen minutes into her Castro-length opening monologue:
MADDOW (4/7/21): The Republican side of things today was a little helter-skelter. [The] Democratic side of things today was sort of a supercharged day, and it marked what may be a new tone—a new, new tenor from President Biden and the Democrats?
There's reason for them to be making a little bit of a pivot right now because of something structural that just changed in politics this week. This week, the Democrats learned that they will be allowed, if they want, to use the Senate rules in such a way that they can pass legislation in the Senate with just a simple majority of votes, with votes from the 50 Democratic senators only, if that's what they have to do, plus a tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Kamala Harris.
Now, that's a really, really big deal. They thought they might be able to do that one more time this year. Turns out, they can sort of do that when they want to.
That ruling from the Senate parliamentarian this week, that's a huge deal. If the Democrats had to hit a 60-vote margin in the Senate to pass anything, which is what's true with the filibuster rule in place, I mean, if they had to hit that 60-vote threshold, we could expect precisely zero new legislation, right? Nothing else on the Biden administration's agenda to pass into law.
In that passage, Maddow says the parliamentarian's ruling is "a big, big deal." Indeed, she says it's "a huge deal."
She also seems to say that Democrats will now be able to pass legislation in the Senate by a simple majority pretty much whenever they want. But can that possibly be what this new ruling has said?
About seven minutes later, Maddow returned to this topic. When she did, she seemed to double down on her sweeping assertion:
MADDOW: With Republicans standing uniformly against the [proposed] infrastructure bill, with the Republican Senate leader promising there will be no Republican votes for it, if they're going to pass an infrastructure proposal, Democrats will have to pass it using that same process they used for the COVID relief bill, which is the Senate rule that let them pass it with 50 votes instead of 60.
And we know now that they can use that process, not just one more time this year, but basically as many times as they want this year. And I'll tell you, it still hasn`t really caught on, I think, broadly, in terms of the way people are talking about politics, but this is going to end up being a defining thing about the Biden presidency and this first two years he's in office.
The cable star said it again! Thanks to the parliamentarian's ruling, Democrats will be able to avoid the filibuster "basically as many times as they want."
This realization hasn't caught on broadly, the cable star seemed to say. "But this is going to end up being a defining thing about the Biden presidency and this first two years he's in office."
Indeed, if the filibuster is basically dead, that would be a very big deal! That said, if the parliamentarian has actually issued some such ruling, it's hard to know why no one else had caught on to that fact as of Wednesday night.
But has the parliamentarian actually issued so sweeping a ruling? Moments later, Maddow performed a giant clawback with respect to her previous claims. Also, she seemed to tell us this—she hasn't actually seen the text of the important new ruling:
MADDOW: This new rule this week effectively seems to mean that there is a new exception to the filibuster, starting now, that means that you can't apply that 60-vote threshold to budget bills, to bills that affect government taxes and spending.
That seems to be with this parliamentarian`s ruling—and we'll wait to see the exact language of it—but the way it`s been described, that seems to be what it means. And that will change what is possible in a big way with 50 Democratic senators and a Democrat in the White House.
And so, this 50-vote rule is how they will pass infrastructure in the end, mark my words. But in addition to that, what else are they going to pass using that rule? What else are they going to pass via these rules that don`t require them to get ten Republicans to cross some mythical line and side with Democrats, which they won't do on anything?
Well, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now saying that they're working on a way to pass immigration reform under these same rules. Now, you probably can`t pass everything in immigration reform under these budget rules, but you can do a lot.
That will mean if Democrats can agree among themselves on what to do, and they can come up with a list of things to do on immigration that fit within the budget rules, they will be able to pass immigration reform this year, even with unified Republican opposition and zero Republican votes.
And again, there are limits, as I said. Not everything in immigration reform can fit under the budget rules that allow for that 50-vote rule. In addition, almost nobody believes that voting rights writ large, or most civil rights legislation, can pass under those budget rules either.
There probably also aren't great options under the budget rules for passing gun safety reforms. But they`re going to do everything they can, every way they can.
Sad. We were now more than 23 minutes into her opening monologue. Telling us to "mark my words," the cable star now seemed to say that she doesn't exactly know what she's talking about.
First, please note the extent of the clawback! She has already said, at two separate junctures, that Democrats will be able to sidestep Senate filibusters as many times as they want. Now she tells us different:
She says they won't be able to do so for bills involving voting rights, or most civil rights legislation.
Also, they won't be able to do so for bills involving gun safety reform. And of course, they won't be able to do so for "everything in immigration reform." So she now says, failing to explain how anything in immigration reform will count as a budget bill.
Just like that, the cable star has walked back the sweeping assessment she made at two earlier points. She has also dropped this bomb:
She says we'll have to "wait to see the exact language of" the parliamentarian's ruling! We'll have to wait to see the ruling before we know how far-reaching the ruling will turn out to be!
A dirty little secret lurks in that pitiful statement. As of Wednesday night, Maddow still hadn't seen the text of this heralded ruling!
Sad! As of Wednesday night, Maddow still hadn't seen the text of the ruling she'd been describing at great length! As she made her sweeping pronouncements about the ruling, she was only working from "the way it's been described."
The way it's been described by whom? The cable star didn't say! But she hadn't actually seen the ruling! Presumably, this explains why she kept telling us rubes what the ruling "seems to" say.
This is deeply embarrassing, below-D-minus work. What's most embarrassing is the fact that manifest bullshit of this type is so widely loved in Our Town.
This is genuinely stupid work by a huge corporate star. In the beginning, she was sold to us as Our Own Rhodes Scholar. Thirteen years later, this is the type of embarrassing piddle she serves Our Town night after night.
If Maddow hadn't seen the text of this ruling, on what basis had she been telling us what the ruling holds? She didn't explain that on Monday night, or on Wednesday night either.
As we've noted, Maddow is extremely skilled at the process known as "selling the car." Basically, she's over her head when it comes to just about everything else.
She's quite a bit like the famous emperor, the one who boasted about new suit of clothes. That casts us in the role of the emperor's subjects, the one who couldn't see the dysfunction unfolding right before them.
Here in Our Town, we love the D-minus work of this manifest corporate clown. As with dear Brutus, so too here:
The fault in this long-running "cable news" gong-show lies right here, with us.